January 31st, 2016

Some people are thinkers, some talkers ...

One night, in a room crowded with people eating and drinking and milling about from one good-to-see-you circle to another, I met a young would-be drummer of half Angolan parentage who spends his time reading books.

“What books do you read?” I asked him.

“Oh, mostly self-help, personal development, Napoleon Hill,” he said.

“Like Think and Grow Rich?” I asked him. That question got him startled. “You mean you know the book?” “Well, it’s as old as the...”

I laughed. He started to laugh too.

And then, when he started to look at me with his you-don’t-know-what-you’re-saying eye, I gave him another piece of autobiography. “I’m an old hand of the think and you will school,” I said.

As he was leaving for another helping from the desserts table, I stopped him. “You keep on beating your drums until the day comes when you can say to yourself that you are a very good drummer.” “And then what do I do?”

“So you build yourself up from there,” I said.

“And oh, recycle all those books or make a nice bonfire.”

There is still another school of thought abroad that tells you that if you are not as outgoing as other people, then that spells trouble.

If that’s the kink that’s troubling you in your mind’s eye, just think this thought awhile: some people are thinkers, some people are talkers.

There is no reason why one should be held in higher esteem than the other.

Why, yesterday I was strap-hanging in a crowded bus and the Somali woman in the seat in front of us was talking ever so loudly and the man of eastern European origin sitting in one seat was haranguing his pal in the seat across the aisle about something I couldn’t then feed into Google translator.

Oh, how I wished those chatterers would stop talking for a bit and turn thinkers for a while. Yes, being withdrawn from boisterous company is a malady, shyness is an albatross, volubility is the answer and the world is a non-stop speaking party.

There is a movement actually that takes its acolytes on a walk across a patch of burning coal to show them that... Well, I don’t actually know what it is that they want to show.

We sometimes forget that the world is a diverse place with people of mixed propensities and ability. But each ability is a strength and a quality that is special.

Some people can draw better than me, better singers than me, better runners. But I have my own quality too.

And some people take a longer time to bloom than others do. Meritocrats of course think they have the right to push their way of way into all circles because they are clever.

I’m good therefore I get all the goods, and you’re not so good, sorry, perhaps you can shine some shoes.

People don’t realise how selfish meritocracy is, probably because it sounds a bit like democracy. But that’s another story.

It’s the positive thinkers that we should give our hearts out to for now because they have spent so much hard-earned money on books by the Chopras and the Cohelos and the Hills.

The blame isn’t always on you dear friend, sometimes it is on other people. Sometimes you have been given bad treatment, sometimes you’re given inadequate attention, sometimes the world is evil and unfair.

The fault may be in other people as well as in yourself that you are underling. Acceptance and tinkering with the plumbing on your own don’t always help, sometimes it is the reservoir that is dry.

Go and get the reservoir filled. So what shall I tell this young man who aspires to be a drummer?

Concentrate on wanting to be a good drummer, the best in the world if you’re inclined towards that, and spend less time listening to what a rich lad is telling you about what his rich Dad told him so.

But yes, you sometimes need encouragement and the company of like-minded, determined people, but be suspicious of folk who teach motivation as a way to pay for their luxury cruise.

Or the likes of that Frenchman who, a long time ago, told people that you could scale the heights by rising in the morning, looking in the mirror, and chanting this mantra:

Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better.
Wan A Hulaimi The NST Columnist 31 January 2016 @ 11:01 AM